Daily Archives: December 28, 2013

Fun Facts From Church History: Calvin’s Letter to Geneva

Zwinglius Redivivus

history-of-the-reformation-in-europe-in-the-time-of-calvinIf you desire to have me for your pastor, correct the disorder of your lives.  …  I cannot behold without the most painful displeasure … discipline trodden under foot and crimes committed with impunity.  I cannot possibly live in a place so grossly immoral. …  I consider the principal enemies of the Gospel to be, not the pontiff of Rome, nor heretics, nor seducers, nor tyrants, but bad Christians.*

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* D.G. Hart, Calvinism: A History (p. 18).

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Is the Bible making a comeback? Hollywood blockbusters about Jesus, Noah and Moses set to release in 2014.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

religion-comebackIs Hollywood rediscovering the greatest story ever told?

In a year in which The History Channel’s “The Bible” was the most-watched miniseries on cable TV; the Pope was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”; Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, is a New York Times best-seller; and the faith of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is the talk of the country, perhaps it’s not surprising that major motion picture studios are preparing to release Biblical blockbusters in 2014 about Jesus, Noah, and Moses, to name just a few.

When I took my family to the movies this week, I was intrigued to see trailers for three faith-based films, each one of which was genuinely intriguing in their own way:

  • Son of God will release just before Easter and will re-tell the story of the birth, life, ministry death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. [click on link to see trailer]
  • Noah is a $125 million extravaganza starring Russell…

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Biblical Films’ Hollywood Comeback

Studio executives who have spent the past few years releasing superhero and zombie films have, it seems, had an epiphany. Now their new best friends are evangelical pastors whose endorsements they actively seek, even inviting them on to sets during production. Pastors in turn play clips from films of which they approve to 10,000-strong congregations on 40ft wide movie screens.

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‘None’ Could Be Religion’s New Normal In Britain, USA

Merry what? Just in time for Christmas, new statistics show “no religion is the new religion” in Great Britain, according to a study released Monday.

The study, by Westminster Faith Debates, finds 38 percent adults in Great Britain, and 48 percent of those ages 18 to 29, checked no religion in online surveys conducted in January and June by YouGov.

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Homeland Security Preparing For The Next Wall Street Collapse?

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition.

According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

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Assurance of Salvation Part 2: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints

The Domain for Truth

Go to Part 1

Assurance of Salvation Seriesa. Introduction

i.      Our study of Christian assurance of salvation begins with an exposition of the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints which is foundational and shapes how Christian ought to understand assurance of salvation.

ii.      Outline

1. Definition of Perseverance of the Saints and Eternal Security

2. Why is Perseverance of the Saints important for Christian assurance

3. Foundation: The Sovereignty of God

4. Passages demonstrating God’s elect will never be lost

5. Passages demonstrating God’s elect will persevere in their faith and works

b. Definition of Perseverance of the Saints and Eternal Security

i.      The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints “teaches very specifically that they who have once been regenerated and effectually called by God to a state of grace, can never completely fall from that state and thus fail to attain to eternal salvation, though they may sometimes be overcome…

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Bible Summary / Survey: Book of 1 Samuel

 

Author: The author is anonymous. We know that Samuel wrote a book (1 Samuel 10:25), and it is very possible that he wrote part of this book as well. Other possible contributors to 1 Samuel are the prophets/historians Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29).

Date of Writing: Originally, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel were one book. The translators of the Septuagint separated them, and we have retained that separation ever since. The events of 1 Samuel span approximately 100 years, from c. 1100 B.C. to c. 1000 B.C. The events of 2 Samuel cover another 40 years. The date of writing, then, would be sometime after 960 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: First Samuel records the history of Israel in the land of Canaan as they move from the rule of judges to being a unified nation under kings. Samuel emerges as the last judge, and he anoints the first two kings, Saul and David.

Key Verses: “But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king’ ” (1 Samuel 8:6–7).

“You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command’ ” (1 Samuel 13:13–14).

“But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king’ ” (1 Samuel 15:22–23).

Brief Summary: The book of 1 Samuel can be neatly divided into two sections: the life of Samuel (chapters 1–12) and the life of Saul (chapters 13–31).

The book starts with the miraculous birth of Samuel in answer to his mother’s earnest prayer. As a child, Samuel lived and served in the temple. God singled him out as a prophet (3:19–21), and the child’s first prophecy was one of judgment on the corrupt priests.

The Israelites go to war with their perennial enemies, the Philistines. The Philistines capture the ark of the covenant and are in temporary possession of it, but when the Lord sends judgment, the Philistines return the ark. Samuel calls Israel to repentance (7:3–6) and then to victory over the Philistines.

The people of Israel, wanting to be like other nations, desire a king. Samuel is displeased by their demands, but the Lord tells him that it is not Samuel’s leadership they are rejecting, but His own. After warning the people of what having a king would mean, Samuel anoints a Benjamite named Saul, who is crowned in Mizpah (10:17–25).

Saul enjoys initial success, defeating the Ammonites in battle (chapter 11). But then he makes a series of missteps: he presumptuously offers a sacrifice (chapter 13), he makes a foolish vow at the expense of his son Jonathan (chapter 14), and he disobeys the Lord’s direct command (chapter 15). As a result of Saul’s rebellion, God chooses another to take Saul’s place. Meanwhile, God removes His blessing from Saul, and an evil spirit begins goading Saul toward madness (16:14).

Samuel travels to Bethlehem to anoint a youth named David as the next king (chapter 16). Later, David has his famous confrontation with Goliath the Philistine and becomes a national hero (chapter 17). David serves in Saul’s court, marries Saul’s daughter, and is befriended by Saul’s son. Saul himself grows jealous of David’s success and popularity, and he attempts to kill David. David flees, and so begins an extraordinary period of adventure, intrigue, and romance. With supernatural aid, David narrowly but consistently eludes the bloodthirsty Saul (chapters 19–26). Through it all, David maintains his integrity and his friendship with Jonathan.

Near the end of the book, Samuel has died, and Saul is a lost man. On the eve of a battle with Philistia, Saul seeks for answers. Having rejected God, he finds no help from heaven, and he seeks counsel from a medium instead. During the seance, Samuel’s spirit rises from the dead to give one last prophecy: Saul would die in battle the next day. The prophecy is fulfilled; Saul’s three sons, including Jonathan, fall in battle, and Saul commits suicide.

Foreshadowings: The prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1–10 makes several prophetic references to Christ. She extols God as her Rock (v. 2), and we know from the gospel accounts that Jesus is the Rock upon whom we should build our spiritual houses. Paul refers to Jesus as the “rock of offense” to the Jews (Romans 9:33). Christ is called the “spiritual Rock” who provided spiritual drink to the Israelites in the wilderness just as He provides “living water” to our souls (1 Corinthians 10:4; John 4:10). Hannah’s prayer also makes reference to the Lord who will judge the ends of the earth (v. 2:10), while Matthew 25:31–32 refers to Jesus as the Son of Man who will come in glory to judge everyone.

Practical Application: The tragic story of Saul is a study in wasted opportunity. Here was a man who had it all—honor, authority, riches, good looks, and more. Yet he died in despair, terrified of his enemies and knowing he had failed his nation, his family, and his God.

Saul made the mistake of thinking he could please God through disobedience. Like many today, he believed that a sensible motive will compensate for bad behavior. Perhaps his power went to his head, and he began to think he was above the rules. Somehow he developed a low opinion of God’s commands and a high opinion of himself. Even when confronted with his wrongdoing, he attempted to vindicate himself, and that’s when God rejected him (15:16–28).

Saul’s problem is one we all face—a problem of the heart. Obedience to God’s will is necessary for success, and if we in pride rebel against Him, we set ourselves up for loss.

David, on the other hand, did not seem like much at first. Even Samuel was tempted to overlook him (16:6–7). But God sees the heart and saw in David a man after His own heart (13:14). The humility and integrity of David, coupled with his boldness for the Lord and his commitment to prayer, set a good example for all of us.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

Questions about Cults and Religions: Why Do Mormons Refer to Themselves as Latter Day Saints?

 

When the hunger for religious experience peaked in the 1800’s, the lack of unity among the differing branches of Christian faith became a stumbling block. A man named Joseph Smith emerged to propose his own reported religious experiences as the solution. He declared himself to be a prophet of God. Adherents claimed that to Joseph Smith was restored the “holy priesthood [of] the apostles and disciples of old.…” He also declared that in these “latter days” of the world, all other churches were participating in apostasy and only his private revelation (or that of those associated with him) could be trusted for salvation and instruction.

Primarily by the efforts of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, an organization formed and was named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The name was reported to have come by revelation from Jesus Christ. It was to indicate three specific certainties: 1. Jesus Christ ordained the church; 2. the church’s ministry was specific to the latter days of the world, and 3. the church would consist of only the true saints acknowledged by Jesus Christ. Such a name would have sounded very appealing in a time of widely fluctuating doctrine. The LDS church put forward that theirs was the task of establishing the kingdom of God and of instituting the practices of Christian religion as God intended. These things together were commonly called “the restoration of the gospel” and were part of the restoration movement of the early 19th century.

According to the Bible, it is God who shall establish His kingdom (Isaiah 9:7). The saints are not called upon to do this for Him. Also, whether one views the latter days as the very end of our earth’s age, or as including all the days that follow the completed ministry of Jesus Christ, there is no biblical support for a broken gospel in need of restoration. Jesus declared Simon Peter’s acknowledgment of Him as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” to be the rock on which His church would be built, against which “the gates of Hades shall not prevail …” (Matthew 16:16, 18). God also declares that although some have strayed from the truth, “the solid foundation of God stands” (2 Timothy 2:18–19). These verses indicate the enduring nature of the church within the context of the gospel. Indeed, in the end times apostasy will abound (Matthew 24:11), but the gospel will remain intact with those who endure (Matthew 24:13–14).

The true work of today’s saints is to continue to declare the truth of the eternal gospel (John 3:16; Mark 16:15), and to “hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard … in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: Why Is God Going to Send a Strong Delusion in the End Times?

 

The Bible makes it clear why God is sending a strong delusion in the end times: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10–12). Simply put, God sends a strong delusion to those who chose not to believe the gospel of Christ. Those who take delight in mocking and rejecting Him, He will condemn.

It is man’s choice whether to accept and believe the truth of Jesus Christ as presented in the Scriptures. To receive the truth and the love God offers is in keeping with its teachings, “This is love for God: to obey His commands” (1 John 5:3). Conversely, to know the truth and not obey it is to face the wrath of God: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). Frankly speaking, there is no more dangerous condition for man than to know the truth and refuse to obey it. To do so is to harden the heart and make God’s condemnation sure.

When one knows the truth and refuses to obey it, he is subject to any lie, any deception, any untruth that man can conjure up. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21–22). Paul goes on in next few verses to describe the mindset and behaviors of those who disbelieve (see Romans 1:29–31). As a result of man’s foolishness and his arrogant disdain of the things of God, “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). And correspondingly, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

Isaiah puts it succinctly: “They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations; so I [God] also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in My sight and chose what displeases Me” (Isaiah 66:3–4).

When men know the truth and refuse to receive it, when they refuse to obey it and hold it in unrighteousness, “they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 NLT).

“God is love” (1 John 4:16). He is not some cruel monster who deliberately and inwardly delights in preparing people for everlasting condemnation. But He earnestly and lovingly proclaims the gospel of Christ, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Throughout the Scriptures, God urges people to accept the truth. But when people reject Him and spurn His message, then—and not until then—God hardens them and turns them over to a deluded mind to wallow in their wickedness to their eternal damnation. This is what the Lord says about those who choose to reject the truth: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins” (Jeremiah 14:10).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Calvin and His Money

Zwinglius Redivivus

calvin39Unlike today’s super wealthy mega church Pastors, Calvin accepted barely enough income to survive.

He received at Geneva only just sufficient to support him with the greatest parsimony. His pay consisted of fifty dollars, twelve measures of corn, two tuns of wine, and a dwelling-house. The state-protocol of October, 1541, says, indeed, “that a considerable stipend was granted to Calvin, because he was very learned, and visitors cost him much.”

But what proves that this income was very small, according to the price of things at that time, is the circumstance, that the council frequently found it necessary, from mere kindness, to lend him a helping hand. True however to his principles, he refused ten dollars offered him when he was sick in 1546, and two which the council wished him to accept for his journey to Bern, in 1553, on the affairs of the republic.

On December 28, 1556…

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Blessed Is The One Who Is Not Offended By Me

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:2-6 ESV)

Do you remember the first time that someone ridiculed you for your faith? How did that make you feel? What you were enduring is called The Test of Shame. It comes upon all professing Christians. This test is designed to separate the genuine from the disingenuous. Many may…

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